Lap dance club issues not about freedom of expression

by Lisa Leithauser

SOS Oregon is working to end the blight of adult entertainment businesses in Portland metropolitan neighborhoods – not because of moral objections, but because of the problems they are causing to neighboring businesses and area residents. Problems like asking neighbors’ teenage daughters for lap dances, speeding through neighborhoods, parking illegally and having sex in illegally parked vehicles, wandering drunkenly into a neighbor’s house, urinating on neighboring property, leaving garbage including drug paraphernalia and pornographic material on neighbors’ properties, harassing neighbors on their way to the bus stop, harassing other businesses’ customers and employees, etc.

While I appreciate a robust discussion of political philosophy, and certainly sympathize with the idea of less government, we don’t live in a theoretical world.  Some government regulation is necessary to balance profit motives with societal standards of fairness.  In some instances, government regulation impedes both.  In other instances, government regulation favors one over the other, or worse, favors one business owner over another.  This is the case in regards to Oregon’s adult club industry with owners chanting the “freedom of expression” mantra as an excuse to violate codes followed by every other business in the state.

Freedom of expression is a valid concern, but everyone’s freedoms need to be balanced, especially when driven by profits.  A lap dance club owner crying “Freedom of expression” is especially disingenuous when this “freedom” is driven solely by the club owner’s focus on his own profits at the expense of his workers and neighboring businesses and residents.  Such an owner needs to be treated fairly and required to follow the same rules and regulations as every other business.  SOS Oregon is siding with one business over another – one legally operating business over one not operating legally, affecting the profits of surrounding businesses, and getting away with it by shrouding itself in a duplicitous “freedom of expression” blanket.

SOS Oregon is non-partisan, non-profit, and individual participants are decidedly diverse in political opinion.  If you have not already, join me at a Stand-in where we can debate the issue of freedom versus fairness in greater detail.

SOS Oregon is comprised of residents from Portland metropolitan neighborhoods who have formed a coalition to coordinate working with advocacy groups and neighborhood businesses to end the proliferation of unregulated adult entertainment businesses in neighborhoods.